Follow Jesus himself, because if you follow his followers too closely, you may be led astray.
The College Years (18-early 20s) are a very challenging and important part of developing into Adulthood. When I first packed up and headed off to Wayne State College in the Fall of 1999, I was full of excitement and fear.
I knew no one at the College and am an introvert by nature, so the idea of being in a brand new place, where I would need to make brand new friends, was pretty scary. Nevertheless, at the time, I felt very strong in my faith. I had had an important year of spiritual growth in my senior year of high school and was very excited to continue that growth as I started college.
I was convinced that I wanted to find a Bible Study at the Campus where I could find other believers who were as passionate about growing in Christian Faith as I was. I found a group that met once a week in a room next to the cafeteria on campus.
What I ended up finding was a very legalistic, fundamental Christian group that taught that their strict beliefs were TRUTH and all of the other Christians were wrong. As I attended the group week after week, my heart began to be filled with Fear, Confusion, Anger and Resentment. I hated going to the group so much, but I was scared not to go. They believed that we needed to quit celebrating Christmas with Christmas trees, and begin preaching on the corner of campuses. "Me, preaching?", I thought. That just isn't me. But, they tell me that I need to.
After about 10 weeks, I finally had had enough, and said forget it. I never went back to the group after that. I also decided to quit pursuing my faith. I had stuck my neck out searching for God, and been burned. I decided from then on out I was going to go through the motions, but that was it. I totally associated THAT group with God himself, and decided that if that is God, then I don't want anything to do with him on a personal level.
This turning away from God led me into a dark 8 year period of addiction, anxiety, depression, rage, and spiritual bankruptcy.
When I finally came to an end of myself and surrendered again to Jesus, I had a resentment that I needed to deal with. I sat down with a dear friend and said "Why did God lead me astray back then? I was passionate about growing closer to him, but I ended up with confusion, anger and resentment. How could he do that to me?"
My friend looked over at me and said, "Just because you were led astray by a Christian Group does not mean that you were led astray by God himself. He was there for you the entire time: Walking you through your pain."
I sorta understood what he was saying and it helped a little bit, but I still resented God for allowing that to happen to me. I also remained very weary about pursuing a close relationship with God again.
About 2 years later, I heard something on the radio that gave me the healing that I needed. Follow Jesus, Not his Followers because his followers are not perfect and they get it wrong sometimes.
From this I have been able to again pursue Jesus, but this time, I am pursuing him on a personal level. YES, I need to be in fellowship with others, but if I don't agree with a particular group or person, that's alright. And if I try out a particular Christian Fellowship and I don't agree with a lot of what they teach, I can just choose another one.
The fact of the matter is: The Bible is complicated and difficult to understand. I believe there are a lot of things about the Christian Faith that we were never meant to understand right now. I do know, however, that if I pursue Jesus personally, setting aside all OPINIONS ABOUT him, then I will never be led astray.